If you have some experience in landlord and tenant matters, or are of a certain age, you will be familiar with the phrase "covenant for quiet enjoyment" and you will operate under the assumption that a tenant, in a residential lease, has the right to quiet enjoyment of his or her property as a term of the lease. The word "covenant" means a contract, an agreement, or a serious promise. Hence, a tenant has the benefit of a an agreement to quiet enjoyment of their rental unit.
The words "quiet enjoyment" do not refer to the noise level in a rental unit. Instead, the "quiet enjoyment" was traditionally understood to mean that the tenant would not be physically interferred with in the rental unit--though under some circumstances loud noise could indeed affect the tenant's physical use of the premises and hence amount to a breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment.
So what is the point of this article today? It is to highlight the fact that the phrase "covenant for quiet enjoyment" does not in fact appear anywhere in the Residential Tenancies Act. What we understand as the tenant's right, is in fact a term that is only implied into rental agreements through the common law, the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, or sometimes through the written lease document.
Does it matter that this phrase does not appear in the Residential Tenancies Act? I think the answer is both yes and no. The "no" part of the answer is because the RTA does provide a tenant with the protection that a landlord shall not at any time during the course of a tenancy "substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit or the residential complex in which it i slocated for all usual purposes by a tenant or members of his or her household" (section 22 RTA). You can see that the protection of section 22 is similar in nature to the protection afforded by the phrase "covenant for quiet enjoyment" and arguably section 22 is an expression of the phrase that is clearer in meaning.
However, on the "yes" side of the argument, I do find that the phrase covenant for quiet enjoyment has a connotation that is broader and different than the current wording of section 22. While section 22 is being read and interpreted broadly by the Board; I think it is still fair to say that the phrase "covenant for quiet enjoyment" has a historical and judicial interpretation that is more favourable to tenants and more absolute and what section 22 RTA implies.
The section 22 RTA obligation focuses on what the landlord does, while the "covenant for quiet enjoyment" was interpreted more as a guarantee that operated regardless of what the landlord did. In this sense, relying on the authorities that express an opinion about what the covenant for quiet enjoyment means can be useful, still today, in Landlord and Tenant Board matters.
Michael K. E Thiele